Liberal Arts Education & Science

One professor friend says that 15-20% of the grad students they admit each year are “long shots.” But what he means by long shots are people whose applications are perfect in every way, except that no one on the admissions committee knows the professors who wrote the recommendations. So if you want to get into grad school in the sciences, you need to go to college somewhere with real research professors. Otherwise you’ll seem a risky bet to admissions committees, no matter how good you are. Which implies a surprising but apparently inevitable consequence: little liberal arts colleges are doomed. Most smart high school kids at least consider going into the sciences, even if they ultimately choose not to. Why go to a college that limits their options?

Paul Graham

My undergraduate days were spent at Haverford College, where I studied physics and computer science, dabbled in the social sciences, and was an active member of student government. Some of my fondest memories are from my time at Haverford, where there was never a shortage of intelligent or ambitious people with whom to interact. As a result, I am a strong supporter of the small liberal arts college experience, and particularly so for their role in science education.

Aaron Clauset

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